Cooked to Perfection: A Successful Summer at Brainfood's Summer Institute
By Guest Blogger Cody Dunitz, Summer Intern
What a great summer it’s been here at Brainfood’s Summer Institute! ‘How so?’ you may ask...well, here was the recipe for success in the kitchen this summer: Thirty cups of enthusiastic students (split evenly into six groups), four cups of fun and dedicated co-instructors, fifty-four tablespoons of mouth-watering recipes, five teaspoons of smiles, seven dollops of laughter (diced and tossed with the smiles), six cups of teamwork (you may substitute collaboration), one-third cup of willingness to try new foods, one and one-fourth cup of learning new knife skills (minced, batonneted, and julienned), and a quarter of a cup of ripe communication.
Being part of the Summer Institute team has been such an amazing experience. I have learned to teach, learn from my co-workers and students, communicate with others, and last but certainly not least, how to cook some really delicious food using new skills, techniques and ingredients. Working with the students was a ton of fun. They were a dynamic, eager group of young adults that each brought something unique and fun literally to the table. They asked thoughtful questions, while also working on independence and team communication amongst themselves and their groups. They problem solved, worked together as a team, learned to follow instructions and read a recipe, and made delicious food. And on top of all of that, they challenged me to learn new things about myself, too.
Teaching these students was such a joy. Once we had showed them a new cooking skill, it was really great to see them continuing to use that skill into future classes or asking their peers for help when they needed it. There are few things that are more rewarding than seeing students enjoy themselves while learning to do something that I myself am passionate about.
One of the most important elements of the class to me was the emphasis on trying new foods. This seemingly simple concept embodies the larger idea of the importance of taking risks—of doing things even when they are outside of one’s comfort zone or even a little bit scary and new. And I believe that becoming comfortable with the unfamiliar or uncomfortable is an extremely valuable skill that these students can start to carry with them into other aspects of their lives. And in the spirit of walking the walk, working with the Summer Institute helped me step out of my own comfort zone and try new things, too!
Another key aspect of the program was teamwork. And it’s true: things really do work when you function together as a team. As a staff member, I felt the importance of this concept when it came to communicating with the other co-instructors and teaching the classes. And as a teacher, it was really awesome to watch and support the students in developing their teamwork skills as well. Watching the students learn and grow throughout the program in general was such a wonderful experience.
I am wrapping up this internship having learned so much, and feeling gratitude for the opportunity to share my knowledge, learn new knowledge, and spend time in the kitchen working with such a great group of people. And although I am almost finished with this internship, I will take the experiences and Brainfood knowledge with me in a little to-go bag, so that I can pull them out for a yummy snack, whenever I am hungry.